Historic downtown building up for sale

The building believed to be Indianapolis’ oldest commercial structure, at 42 E. Washington St., is up for sale.

The four-story building, which houses the Gallery Forty Two art gallery and has also served as a special-events space, is on the north side of Washington Street between Pennsylvania and Meridian streets.

Once the building is sold, the gallery will cease operations. The venue hosted its final special event in December.

Cushman & Wakefield is marketing the property, which went on the market last month. Asking price for the 11,582-square-foot building is $2.49 million.

Jim and Linda Hunter, who live in the Johnson County town of Trafalgar, purchased the building in 2012 and oversaw two years’ worth of renovations before Gallery Forty Two opened in 2014. According to the Indiana property sale disclosure form, the Hunters—through JHL Properties LLC—purchased the building for $475,000.

The couple says they spent multiple times that amount doing extensive renovations to the building, which was vacant and structurally unsound when they acquired it. Renovations included repairing the foundation, installing electrical wiring and removing the top floor of the building.

“This has been a labor of love. It’s difficult for us to sell the building,” Jim Hunter told IBJ.

The closure of the special-events business spurred the decision to sell the building.

Two of the couple’s sons, Curt Hunter and Nick Hunter, ran the special events business, which hosted weddings, receptions, parties and other gatherings.

Jim Hunter said that his sons wanted to step away from the business for family reasons—both sons have children at home, and the nights-and-weekends nature of the business was taking them away from their families.

Without revenue from the building, Jim Hunter said, he and his wife can’t afford to keep it.

The couple said they contemplated moving in and using a portion of the building as their home and the rest as a bed-and-breakfast. They decided against it, in part because of their age—both husband and wife are 69.

“If we were younger, we would have done it,” Linda Hunter said.

The building is more than 100 years old, but its exact age is unclear from available records.

Linda Hunter, who has done her own research on the property, said she believes the structure was built between 1832 and 1840 and is the oldest commercial building in the city.

Over the years, Linda Hunter said, the building has served as a cotton mill, apartments, professional offices, retail shops and a café.

In other news this week:

— Bella Pizzeria, a local chain, is set to open soon at Circle Centre mall. The eatery will take the space formerly occupied by Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, which vacated the space last month. A Bella Pizzeria employee said the company is aiming to open at the downtown mall in March or April. The chain’s three other restaurants are at Clay Terrace in Carmel, Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville and Keystone Shoppes on the north side of Indianapolis.

— Blu Moon Café in Carmel, which opened in 2010 in the Indiana Design Center at 200 S. Rangeline Road, announced this week that it plans to close its retail space this summer in order to focus on its catering business.

— Ella Bardo and The Imperial Spa has opened in the space formerly occupied by Silver Door Spa at 762 S. Rangeline Road in Carmel.

The establishment brings together two businesses that formerly operated separately: Ella Bardo Esthetics and Wellness and Imperial Day Spa. Owners are Melissa LaFleur and Danielle Westerfield.

— Colorado-based Delta Restoration Services has opened its first Indiana office at 1601 Country Club Road on the west side of Indianapolis. The local franchisee is Kevin Jones, who also operates two other franchised business at the Country Club Road location: a carpet cleaning business called Chem-Dry and a flooring, cabinetry and refinishing business called NHance.

Delta Restoration Services, which is based in the Denver suburb of Arvada, does commercial and residential restoration of damage caused by flooding and water damage, smoke and fire damage and mold.

Chem-Dry, NHance and Delta Restoration Services are all owned by Nashville, Tennessee-based HRI Holdings Inc., which in turn is owned by Chicago-based private equity firm Baird Capital.

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